It is that time of year when some of county cricket's most recognisable characters decide hang up their bats. Andrew McGlashan picks out some of the notable players who made 2005 their last season of professional cricket

Phil DeFreitas finishes his career after 20 years © Getty Images

Phil DeFreitas
Showed he had lost none of his competitive spirit when he turned out for the PCA Masters XI in the International 20:20 at Grace Road, the place where his career began in 1985. He finished his cricketing days at Leicestershire - having travelled via Lancashire and Derbyshire - after bowling more than 120,000 first-class overs. Even in recent seasons, he continued to run in and complete a heavy workload. He was in his pomp while playing for Lancashire, where he was a part of their run of success in the one-day format, before forming a formidable three-pronged attack at Derby with Devon Malcolm and Dominic Cork. In 44 Tests he took 140 wickets and was the link between the end of England's success in 1980s and their demise during the early 90s. Wednesday Interview with DeFreitas

Warren Hegg
His career was cruelly ended two weeks prematurely in freakish circumstances. A ball from James Anderson bowled James Middlebrook, the Essex offspinner; the ball rebounded towards Hegg, who took a nasty blow on his thumb. The subsequent break meant he finished six victims short of George Duckworth's Lancashire record of 925. Hegg had been a loyal servant for his county since 1986 and was central to the one-day success they enjoyed during the 1990s. His stunning 81 against Yorkshire in 1995 is still fondly remembered at Old Trafford. His career did not have the conclusion it deserved, as Hegg gave up the Lancashire captaincy at the end of the 2004 following their relegation in the County Championship. He was denied a final outing at Lord's when Lancashire capitulated against Warwickshire in the C&G semi-final, having fallen at the same stage in the previous four seasons. His international ambitions were hampered because his prime years overlapped with the time when England were trying to cover two bases with their wicketkeeper, invariably returning to Alec Stewart. However, he enjoyed a memorable debut when he was part of the England team which beat Australia by 12 runs at Melbourne on the 1998-99 tour. He toured again in 2001-02, to India and New Zealand, but was overlooked in favour of James Foster.

Matthew Maynard
One of the most prolific county batsmen of his generation but he never made the grade at international level. He was labelled a troublemaker, and did himself no favours on the West Indies tour in 1994 when he had little else to do but enjoy the Caribbean life away from the cricket field. However, he is now getting a second chance on the international stage - and has already making a significant impact - as England's assistant coach. He took the role for the one-day matches of England's winter in 2004-05 and, following an early season illness this summer, retired from playing and took on a permanent role within the England team. Throughout his career with Glamorgan he was a run machine, instrumental in bringing the County Championship to Wales in 1997. Maynard joins Team England

A drawn out retirement for Graham Thorpe, who will now take up a coaching position with New South Wales © Getty Images

Graham Thorpe
A drawn-out retirement process for Thorpe, which began with him announcing in May that he was going to be part of the coaching set up at New South Wales. It ended with him saying he was retiring from all cricket, just as England's Ashes campaign was hitting full speed. In between, he played his 100th Test, against Bangladesh at Chester-le-Street, and was then dropped from the England team for the first Ashes Test at Lord's in favour of Kevin Pietersen. Thorpe was always going to call it a day at the end of this summer, but he was not able to do things exactly on his own terms. This should not detract from his superb career with Surrey and England. It is easy to forget, with the national team's current success, that Thorpe almost single-handedly kept the ship afloat during the 1990s. On the domestic front he scored over 21,000 first-class runs at more than 45 - figures which aptly reflect his talents. His final figures would have been even better if he had been able to concentrate solely on his cricket. England's middle-order Pollyfilla

Alan Mullally
It is easy to forget that, during the dark days when England slumped to bottom of the world rankings in 1999, Mullally was a key member in the attack. During the previous winter he had restarted his international career by playing in four of the Ashes Tests before producing consistent performances in the one-day matches. It was in the one-day arena that he really showed his potential, rising to fourth in the world rankings. Unlike many bowlers around the world he found it easier to bowl with the white ball than the red one, often spraying the ball around in Tests while having a brilliant economy in ODIs. He played throughout the 1999 World Cup and was a member of Duncan Fletcher's first touring squad to South Africa in 1999-2000. However, he was a one-dimensional player and didn't survive long into the new millennium except for a one-off recall against Australia in 2001. His county career was split between Leicestershire, whom he helped to two consecutive County Championships, and Hampshire where he was one of the early signings by Rod Bransgrove. However his influence began to wane as young players came to the fore and he was forced to concede to mounting injuries towards the end of this season.

Gavin Hamilton will continue to represent Scotland © Getty Images

Gavin Hamilton
In the days before Andrew Flintoff was given his famous "talking to," England were involved in their decade-long search for an allrounder. Duncan Fletcher, in his first overseas tour to South Africa, plumped for Hamilton, who had performed commendably for Scotland in the World Cup that summer. He started the tour with runs in the warm-up matches and was thrown in at Johannesburg - where England were 2 for 4 against Donald and Pollock - but bagged a pair and was wicketless in 15 overs. He was one of the few players to be dumped during the Fletcher era after just a single Test - and never came close again. His county career went into a nosedive when he suffered the yips and, although he moved from Yorkshire to Durham, there was never a feeling of longevity about him. However, he has helped Scotland into the 2007 World Cup so still has the chance to extend his international career.

Trevor Penney
A Warwickshire stalwart for 17 years, Trevor Penney retired from first-class cricket at the end of the 2005 season to take up a post as Sri Lanka's assistant coach, where he teamed up with his former county team-mate, Tom Moody. Originally from Zimbabwe, Penney joined the county in 1988 whereupon he embarked on a four-year residential qualification. The time on the sidelines paid off in the early 1990s, when he was an integral member of the most successful Warwickshire team of all time, including the side that won a unique treble in 1994. In all, he played in seven one-day finals, the last coming against Hampshire at the end of 2005. Like his fellow Southern African, Jonty Rhodes, Penney was perhaps best known for his outstanding fielding which, even at the age of 37, remained good enough to earn him a role as one of England's substitute fielders in the 2005 Ashes campaign. He had been appointed as England's fielding coach for that series, and is set to make significant strides in that field in years to come.

Mark Alleyne
He was a key part of Gloucestershire's one-day success when they won Lord's finals as if by habit, and he scored a memorable 112 in the 1999 B&H Super Cup final. But Alleyne was there through the lean times as well, whether it was shoring up the batting or putting in the hard yards with his medium pace. England recognition took some time in arriving, but he certainly didn't disgrace himself during the 10 matches he played. His best performance came at East London, on the 1999-2000 tour, where he scored a half-century and took three wickets but was unable to prevent a South Africa win.

Michael Burns
If ever there was a bits-and-pieces player it was Burns. Through his career with Warwickshire and Somerset he has batted in the top order, bowled medium pace, kept wicket and even captained Somerset when no one else wanted to do it. He played a part in the glory days at Edgbaston in 1994 and 1995 but became a victim of Mark Garaway's youth policy at Taunton.

Lucy Pearson was England's main strike bowler for almost a decade © Getty Images

Lucy Pearson
She was the fast-bowling spearhead of the England women's team for almost a decade. She announced her retirement in April after missing the semi-final of the World Cup with a stress injury in her left ankle, and returned to her day job, teaching English Studies at Solihull School near Birmingham. As England's leading wicket-taker in recent years, she became only the second woman in over 70 years of Test cricket - and the first for nearly 50 years - to take 11 wickets in a Test against Australia, at The Bankstown Oval in February 2003, with 7 for 51 in the first innings and 11 for 107 in the match. Her final international career statistics are impressive. In 12 Test matches, she took 30 wickets at 29.36, and in 62 one-day games she took 68 wickets, at an average of 22.97 and an economy rate of 3.09.

Clare Taylor
Clare Taylor was one of the most successful bowlers in the women's game. She became the first England player to take 100 international wickets in 2002 and was the second highest wicket-taker overall at the World Cup in 2000. She played 16 Tests and 105 ODIs, was made a Member of the British Empire in 2000 for services to cricket and was also part .of the England side that won the 1993 World Cup at Lord's. She was also a talented footballer too, having represented Liverpool Ladies as well as playing in the football World Cup.

Also retiring
Paul Grayson (Yorkshire, Essex, England), Andy Pratt (Durham), Rob Turner (Somerset)

Some of the most recognised umpires are also leaving the game: David Shepherd, Merv Kitchen, Alan Whitehead and John Hampshire are all hanging up their coats.